UNIITE - Understanding the Need for
Interfaith / Intercultural Togetherness & Education



On Friday, December 6 , 2002, a celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr was held at the Erpelding's home. Eid-ul-Fitr, which means the Festival of Breaking Fast, falls on the first day of Syawal, the tenth month of the Muslim calendar, following the fasting month of Ramadan. The event, inspired by UNIITE, was organized especially to celebrate the true meaning of Eid-ul-Fitr in which the spirit of Thanksgiving, Remembrance, Victory, Forgiveness, & Peace, is shared with the family and the community.

More than 40 people made their presence that evening. 17 of those (3 adults and 14 children - 5th. to 9th. graders) came all the way from Onamia, thanks to Malcolm, Mariani and the CIE's Presentation on Islam program that was held in Onamia a few weeks prior to the Eid's event. The rest who were there were our Interfaith friends and families, who as usual, made the event even more meaningful, warm, and memorable.

The event was opened with the chanting of "takbir" by Norhashimah.We shared prayers & readings from our faith traditions with peace as the theme, listened attentively to prayers from the heart, enjoyed the beautiful voice of Betty Bartos and joined her in her singing of prayer, and were warmed by the music of peace provided and shared kindly by one of the Jenzts.

Next, we celebrated the spirit of forgiveness, in the appropriately named, "Forgiveness Ceremony." We formed a big circle. One by one, each one of us humbled oneself and asked for forgiveness from each other, not only on one's behalf, but also, on behalf of one's ancestor, one's tradition, one's religion, and one's country. While making the symbolic gesture of asking forgiveness, which was done by clasping both of the other person's hands, and then motioning one's hands to one's heart, we uttered the basic, yet meaningful apology of "I'm very sorry, (the person's name.)" Some of us decided to give an additional usual friendly embrace to the persons we apologized to. Noticeably, some of the eyes glistened with tears, for it was indeed a touching and warm experience that carried a very powerful meaning, as expressed by many of the participants.

Our next event was the sharing of food. The variety of foods that were delicious, and prepared and brought by the guests and the hosts that evening could only add to the pleasure of socializing and sharing of each other's company. The 14 children from Onamia made themselves at home in one of the rooms, playfully interacted, talked and laughed with the Erpelding children and the Bartos' grand-daughter. Needless to say, the children were full of energy and were very excited. It was amazing to see how they treated each other as if they had known each other for a long time. More appropriately, as if they were brothers and sisters of the same family.

When it was time for the Onamia guests to leave, it was only natural to see the reluctance on the children's part to do so. The last guests didn't leave until almost 11pm. Thank you to all for making the Eid's celebration a memorable and meaningful one.

May God's blessings be with you always.

Report by: Norhashimah Erpelding